- Title: GERMANY: Azerbaijan win 2011 Eurovision Song Contest
- Date: 16th May 2011
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGAR JAMAL FROM ELL/NIKKI, EUROVISION SONG CONTEST DUO WINNER FROM AZERBAIJAN SAYING: "It's unbelievable. It's such a great feeling. Our dream came true." (SOUNDBITE) (English) ELDAR GASIMOV FROM ELL/NIKKI, EUROVISION SONG CONTEST DUO WINNER FROM AZERBAIJAN SAYING: "We just want to sing a song in our own language because it is very important for us." ELL/NIKKI SINGING SONG IN AZERBAIJANI
- Embargoed: 31st May 2011 13:00
- Location: Germany, Germany
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA2GYTBAXAXZQRQDYJAKJ7DXYIJ
- Story Text: Azerbaijan won the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday (May 14) with the love song "Running Scared", watched by a television audience of more than 100 million people.
The song was performed by Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal, known as Ell/Nikki.
Italy finished second and Sweden came third in the 56th edition of the contest, hosted by Germany.
The extravaganza, dubbed the world's biggest music competition with one of television's largest audiences, was beamed to countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea -- and to nations around the world that were not even competing.
"It was brilliant. Thank you for this Eurovision in Duesseldorf, in Germany," said Gasimov, 21, after celebrating on stage in front of 36,000 spectators in a soccer arena in the German city of Duesseldorf that was converted for the event.
"It's incredible. I'm so happy, my dream came true. Six months ago I was a housewife and now I'm a winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. It's unbelievable," said Jamal, 30 and mother of two.
At a news conference after the event, Jamal and Gasimov paid tribute to their home country, singing a song in their native tongue, Azerbaijani, saying that it was "very important for us" to do this.
The Eurovision Song Contest has been a launching pad for international careers. Swedish pop group Abba became famous after winning in 1974 with "Waterloo" and Celine Dion took top honours in 1988 while competing for Switzerland.
Many deride the contest for serving up mediocrity, while others are enthusiastic followers.
From its start in Switzerland in 1956, the contest conceived by the European Broadcasting Union has grown into a giant event where performers, often dressed in spangly costumes, belt out their songs in different languages.
Fans draped in national flags and clad in exotic outfits packed the arena, cheering the 25 finalists who mixed glitz and kitsch with ballads, rock 'n' roll and disco to try to win votes from viewers and 43 national juries.
It was a disappointing night for Germany after Lena won the contest last year in Oslo, thus making the country the host for this year's event. Azerbaijan will host next year's contest.
Lena became an instant national hero for ending Germany's three-decade Eurovision drought. Her song "Satellite" went to the top of pop music charts in six countries and was a top 10 hit in seven others.
She was a distant 10th on Saturday night.
French opera singer Amaury Vassili and Britain's boy band Blue had also been tipped as favourites by bookmakers along with Jedward of Ireland. They all finished far behind.
Other famous participants in past contests include Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John, Secret Garden, t.A.T.u., Lordi and Patricia Kaas. Riverdance was created in 1994 when Ireland hosted the contest.
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